Between scepticism and optimism

Which topics concern young people in Germany and other European countries? The results of Generation What, a Europe-wide study, provide some answers.

picture alliance/McPHOTO - Generation What

Do you still live with your parents? Could you be happy without the right to vote? What does being in a relationship mean to you? In recent months these and nearly 150 other questions were answered on the Internet by over 900,000 respondents from all over Europe. This makes the Generation What study the largest Europe-wide youth survey ever.

The survey of 18- to 34-year-old Europeans examined all spheres of life: education, work, media, politics, family and friendship. The study was initiated by European radio and television stations, including ZDF and Bayerischer Rundfunk. The Sinus-Institut evaluated the answers of participants from Germany.

For diversity, against nationalism

Here are some of the main findings. Young people in Germany are unhappy with many things. Above all, they have little trust in politics. Furthermore, only one in four believe the education system prepares young people for the labour market. Nevertheless, the majority look to the future with optimism. How do these contradictory views fit together? The young people are already crisis-tested, explain the Sinus-Institut researchers.

Most recently, the refugee crisis presented society with major challenges. However, that did not lead to a rejection of diversity among young people in Germany. The majority of them welcome the idea of a multicultural society and reject nationalism. Almost four out of five respondents consider themselves Europeans. In their view, the EU is useful to Germany, but it does not offer answers to the questions of the future. Faith in the European model is stronger in other countries. Young survey participants from Sweden, Norway and Denmark are especially enthusiastic. The majority there consider Europe “the only true project for the future”.

For young people in Belarus, Poland, Croatia, Switzerland and Turkey, on the other hand, Europe is “nothing more than the name of a continent”. Respondents Europe-wide were absolutely unanimous when it comes to their preferred future life model: the majority in all countries see themselves “married or in a registered partnership” at some point in the future. The church, on the other hand, receives a collective rejection. The question “Could you be happy without faith in (a) god?” was answered “Yes” by the majority of young people everywhere.

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